Brumbies want fast start in new Super comp

Leading the Australian conference when Super Rugby shut down, Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says his team can't afford a slow start in the new shortened league.

DAN MCKELLAR, head coach of the Brumbies.
DAN MCKELLAR, head coach of the Brumbies. Picture: Dianne Manson/Getty Images

Brumbies coach Dan McKellar says it will be critical to get off to a fast-start after the hit-and run Australian Super Rugby draw was unveiled on Thursday.

The Canberra side was atop the Australian conference ladder, and second overall, when the international competition was shut down in March after seven rounds due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Their round one match in the truncated 12-week five-team tournament is on July 4 at home against the Melbourne Rebels and McKellar said they needed to hit the ground running.

Joining the four Super teams the Western Force will initially relocate to Cessnock, west of Newcastle, but are hopeful of playing home games in Western Australia from round five.

Each team has two byes while second and third will play off to face the ladder leader in the grand final on September 19.

Teams will also fly in and out on the same day on charter flights, following the lead of the NRL and AFL.

"It's a sprint so we've got to start the season well," McKellar said.

"Your home games are going to be important ... there's a travel component that's different to what we're used to.

"Starting the season well is going to be critical."

The Waratahs had only managed one win from six matches and coach Rob Penney said they were eager to make amends with a second chance to start the season.

They have been given a handy draw with two lots of four games, with a bye in between and one before finals.

They take on Queensland at Suncorp Stadium to open the competition on July 3.

"Obviously the first block of games in the other competition hadn't gone as well as we would have liked so there's been a re-set," Penney said.

"The boys are excited about having that opportunity again to set their mark in a positive way."

McKellar said the domestic competition could be a possible blue-print for the future, with New Zealand also embarking on their own localised Super Rugby Aotearoa, which kicks off this weekend.

There are talks that a future competition could be extended to include a play-off series between the top few teams in both.

"Possibly, I think it's great," McKellar said.

"People want to see Australian derbies and there's plenty of them and they will be played at a high intensity.

"There's Wallabies jerseys up for grabs, with a new coach, so if you can't get up for these games you shouldn't be playing rugby."

With almost four months between games, McKellar expects training to be fierce as players jostle for a match-day role, particularly with no club rugby being played for them to push their case.

"I can only go off the past few weeks and it's incredibly competitive," he said.

"The boys are certainly challenging each other; pretty physical most of our team sessions which is good.

"It's going to be tough when it comes to select 23."


AAP